Tapioca flour is a grain-free flour made from the starch found in the roots of the cassava plant. It’s rich in starch, has a mildly sweet taste, and is the staple flour used in gluten-free baking. Tapioca flour is a pretty versatile cooking ingredient. It’s primarily used to give baked goods a crispy crust or chewy texture. It also serves as a thickening agent for recipes like cookie dough, sauces, gravies, and cream-rich desserts.
If you’ve run out of tapioca flour today, here’s a list of tapioca flour substitutes that can save you a trip to the store.
Cornstarch is something you probably already have in your pantry, and it makes an excellent tapioca flour substitute for thickening sauces and gravies. It’s important, however, not to get cornstarch confused with corn flour. Cornstarch is derived from the starchy part of corn kernels whereas corn flour comes from dried, finely ground corn kernels. Cornstarch is also naturally gluten-free so it’s a healthier alternative to tapioca flour.
Just keep in mind, cornstarch has two times the thickening capacity of tapioca flour, so you need to be careful with your measurements when substituting them.
2 Tbsp Tapioca Flour = 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch.
#2. Potato Starch
Potato starch is another excellent gluten-free alternative to tapioca flour. Although it has a heavier consistency than tapioca flour, so depending on the recipe you’re preparing, you need to be careful about the replacement ratio.
Potato starch is highly absorbent and can absorb more water than tapioca flour, making it a more effective thickening agent. Potato starch can be an excellent substitute for tapioca flour in sauces and gravies, thickening them effortlessly. However, if you’re preparing a baked dish like a pie or cake, potato starch may not be the best substitute. It can thicken the dish excessively if you fail to substitute conservatively.
While potato starch may not be ideal for baking, it offers a good frying alternative to tapioca flour. It absorbs more water and therefore soaks up less oil.
For Sauces and Gravies:
1 Tbsp Tapioca Flour = 1 Tbsp Potato Starch.
For Baked Goods:
1 Tbsp Tapioca Flour = 0.25 – 0.5 Tbsp Potato Starch.
For Fried or Deep-Fried Foods:
1 Tbsp Tapioca Flour = 0.5 – 0.75 Tbsp Potato Starch.
#3. Rice Flour
Rice flour, which is made from finely milled rice, works amazingly as a substitute for tapioca flour in baked dishes. It’s different from rice starch, which is produced by simmering rice in lye. Rice flour also has a very mild flavor so it’s easy to work with and doesn’t affect the taste of your final product.
The only problem is, rice flour is a little sticky. If you use it as a substitute for tapioca flour in a watery dish, you might end up with a thicker result than expected. It definitely has a relatively higher thickening capacity so you will need to manage the replacement ratio. But for most dishes, starting with half and adding more only as you need it is a good idea.
1 Tbsp Tapioca Flour = ½ Tbsp Rice Flour.
#4. All-Purpose Flour
All-purpose flour, as the name suggests, can be used for a large variety of dishes, including most recipes that generally use tapioca flour. It’s sometimes also referred to as “refined flour” or just “flour.” All-purpose flour is made from skinned wheat grains by milling, refining, and bleaching them.
All-purpose flour would make a good substitute for tapioca flour in baked dishes. However, all-purpose flour does contain gluten, so it is unsuitable for gluten-free recipes. It also has a raw taste that you need to find a way to balance in your recipe.
As all-purpose flour is thicker than tapioca flour, you will need to adjust the replacement ratio and cooking time if you’re using it as a thickener. You should also know, all-purpose flour doesn’t yield the same glossy finish as tapioca flour, but if you get the substitution right, it shouldn’t affect the flavor.
For Sauces and Gravies:
1 Tbsp Tapioca Flour = ½ Tbsp All-Purpose Flour.
For Baked and Fried Goods:
1 Tbsp Tapioca Flour = 1 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour.
Arrowroot is one of the best tapioca flour substitutes for almost every dish. It’s flavorless, gluten-free, and has a similar consistency to tapioca flour so it’s very easy to work with.
Arrowroot is a starch obtained from tropical plants, traditionally Maranta Arundinacea. Because of their similar means of extraction, tapioca from cassava is considered a variety of arrowroot.
Arrowroot can be substituted for tapioca flour evenly in all dishes, but you should know it doesn’t always result in the same chewy consistency that tapioca flour provides. If you’re preparing a baked dish, it’s better to combine arrowroot with some other flours to get the right texture.
1 Tbsp Tapioca flour = 1 Tbsp Arrowroot.
#6. Tapioca Starch
Tapioca flour and tapioca starch are both essentially the same thing. Check your pantry one more time before you step out to buy more. It’s possible you have tapioca starch but missed it because you were searching for flour.
Tapioca flour is sometimes also referred to as tapioca starch because the flour is made from starch. Some brands label the product as “Tapioca Starch” and some as “Tapioca Flour.” Since they’re the same thing, you can substitute them equally in all recipes.
1 Tbsp Tapioca Flour = 1 Tbsp Tapioca Starch.
#7. Cassava Flour
Cassava flour and tapioca flour come from the same part of the cassava plant. The only difference is that tapioca flour is made purely from the starch part of the root, whereas cassava flour is made from the entire root. Cassava flour is much more nutrient-dense and has a mild nutty flavor you may pick up on, depending on the recipe you’re making.
You can swap them evenly in most baked recipes because they both contain the same amount of starch. However, cassava flour has a higher fiber content, which gives it slightly more thickening power, so you want to be more careful when using it for sauces.
1 Tbsp Tapioca Flour = 1 Tbsp Cassava Flour.
#8. Chickpea Flour
Chickpea flour is a low-carb high-fat alternative to tapioca flour, making it the perfect substitute for those on a keto diet. It’s made from a type of ground chickpea called gram chickpea and has an array of health benefits, such as high vitamin, protein, and fiber content.
Chickpea flour is a good choice for recipes that involve frying or baking because it acts as an effective thickening agent. It has a mild earthy, nutty taste that you might have to compensate for with sugar or icing in desserts, but otherwise, it doesn’t affect the flavor or consistency in any way. Chickpea flour has an almost similar consistency and absorption potency as tapioca flour.
1 Tbsp Chickpea Flour = 1 Tbsp Tapioca Flour.